November 22, 2013

How to Write a Hit in a Medieval Castle in France


If music is inseparable from the setting where it was created, what kind of songs would you write if you were surrounded by medieval castle walls, gothic towers and centuries-old tapestries? 17 top songwriters and producers from both sides of the pond found out at an ASCAP Songwriters Retreat, held September 25th to October 4th at the 14th-century Château Marouatte in the Dordogne region of France.

Years ago, the château's owner Miles Copeland invited Jeff Beck, Jon Bon Jovi, Belinda Carlisle and Desmond Child to the chateau for high-level songwriting sessions. After a decade of dormancy, ASCAP convinced him to re-start the tradition in 2011, and it’s been going strong ever since.

The 2013 class included US and UK writers Jon Bellion, Bleu, Benny Cassette, Chris DeStefano, Jayson DeZuzio, Melanie Fiona, Gary Go, Mr. Hudson, HyGrade, Josh Kear, Audra Mae, Jessie Malakouti, Dougy Mandagi (The Temper Trap), MoZella, Daniel Nigro, Nylo and Jesse Shatkin.

ASCAP designed the retreat to put talented writers in an environment conducive to writing hits and getting cuts. Each day, the writers divided into different groups to write and record. Gibson, Taylor, PreSonus and Audio-Technica donated the gear and instruments used throughout the retreat. The Cain Foundation generously underwrote the retreat for the third straight year.

The participants traveled back to their home countries with great memories, new collaborators and hard drives full of fantastic songs, ready to pitch to record labels and music supervisors. 

Success Stories from Past Château Marouatte Song Camps

"Should've Gone to Bed" - by Julian Emery/Tom Higgenson/Hillary Lindsey
Title track off Plain White T's 2013 EP

"Step With Me" – by Billboard/Mika/Hillary Lindsey
Cut by Mika on his 2012 album The Origin of Love

"In My City" - by Billboard/Ellie Goulding/Talay Riley
Cut by Ellie Goulding for the deluxe edition of Halcyon

"Heartbreak Heard Round the World" – by Shea Taylor/Johntá Austin/Martin Johnson
Confirmed as the first single by RCA artist Jacob Latimore, set for winter 2013 release